- Acid Test by Quixote - http://www.molvray.com/acidtest -

Women are human or chattel. Not both.

We have a choice. We can do what it takes to live among equals, and benefit from all the fun and fascinating things some of those people will come up with. Or we can live in a Handmaid’s Tale, but without uniforms, of course, I mean, we wouldn’t want to be obvious about it, right?

There’s one very simple test of where you fall on the spectrum of believers in slavery.

Human beings have rights. They can’t be bought or sold or deployed as some master sees fit.

Slaves, on the other hand, don’t own themselves.

So, do you think women have control over their own bodies? Or don’t you?

If you do, you want to live in a world of equality. If you don’t, you think women are properly chattel, there to serve at someone else’s discretion.

It’s really that simple. You can’t be a “pro-life liberal [1].” (The crap about how Democrats should accommodate that drivel was the last straw and brought on this podium-thumping rant.) You can’t say the right to make your own decisions about your own body is some tertiary issue [2]. If you think other people’s rights to their own bodies are unimportant, you’re pro-chattel.

We call the right to make your own decisions “pro-choice,” but that obscures the issue. The essence is that the choice has to rest with the woman who has the body that necessitates the choice. You might be against abortion in your own life. That’s fine. There’s nothing wrong with that. But what you can’t be is against abortion in someone else’s life.

You cannot make decisions about somebody else’s body without turning her into a slave. It’s the very definition of slavery. You have taken away her ownership of her own body.

We’re so used to thinking of women as some kind of not-really-humans that it’s easier to understand the point if it’s translated to general terms.

Taking that choice away from the woman involved is exactly equivalent to hauling people off the street and hooking them into a dialysis machine to act as a filter for someone else’s blood.

The mere thought is horrible.

It doesn’t matter whether it’s necessary to save someone’s life or not. That’s not the point. Not when it’s real humans dragooned into being dialysis machines.

It’s only when it’s women that suddenly somehow a fetus takes precedence.

And note that it’s only since the invention of the birth control pill [3] that some people got into a lather about the personhood of the fetus. Before that, injunctions against sex, which did not apply to men, were enough to control women’s bodies. It’s never been about the “life” (read “personhood”) of the fetus. If it was, they’d care a lot more about what kind of life that fetus has once it’s born. It’s always been about trying to stop women from owning their own bodies.

Note also that all the measures pushing fetal personhood necessarily take that status away from the woman involved. The fetal personhood bills are really Women Are Non-Persons bills, but their authors try to avoid plain speech.

So, as I say, it’s a simple test whether you’re pro-equality or pro-slavery. Do you think abortion is a woman’s decision or not?

14 Comments (Open | Close)

14 Comments To "Women are human or chattel. Not both."

#1 Comment By Earlynerd On 10 May, 2017 @ 00:59

This is yet another area where women are simply sidestepped out of American law. In those that let non-white men compete for white men’s jobs, the laws literally created a double standard, based on the male adjudicators’ viewpoint that if women have access to men’s wages via a long term sexual contract, a.k.a. marriage, then the only inequality that exists is all women not having access to the same level of male wages.

In this viewpoint, the only injustice for any woman would be not having access via a sexual contract to wages at the same level as a white woman would have to a white man’s. So in compelling non-white men’s access to white men’s wages, all women’s problems were supposed to be taken care of. That was the reasoning behind the 1991 Civil Rights “Restoration” act.

Women, in this soi-disant democracy, were over 70 years behind the last man born here in gaining the most basic right in a democracy: the right to vote.

Men’s control of women by making abortion and birth control illegal is another completely extra-judicial area and literally a no-man’s-lands. There is no DMZ. Men cannot create children. They can only provide a biological trigger and half of a blueprint. Women provide half the blueprint and build all of the structure.

But rather than view women’s capacity as shared human experience and supporting it, or even negotiating with women in this context, the majority of men in this country have chosen force.

Completely extra-legal force, that has no parallels and no precedent. In other posts I’ve called this men having an annexed uterus: men can start and force pregnancy on women, but walk away without any consequences from those they choose not to support for 18 years.

Either a woman owns her body’s wonderful unique capacity to generate life (and still carry on – no problem, dude, report’s on your desk on Monday, kids are out the door on time, those equations you needed? Pregnancy seems to have given my brain a boost, fancy that), or that body belongs to whomever can prohibit it from or force it to complete pregnancy. As a Doris Lessing character said about pregnancy: men can start it and women can’t stop it.

In every attack on Roe v. Wade, the U.S. has chosen force. No basis in law, only force.

#2 Comment By quixote On 10 May, 2017 @ 22:20

“So in compelling non-white men’s access to white men’s wages, all women’s problems were supposed to be taken care of. That was the reasoning behind the 1991 Civil Rights “Restoration” act. ”


Wow. And yet, now that you mention, all kinds of things suddenly fit perfectly. It’s mindblowing, to live through something, and yet because I was paying attention to something else at the time (thank god! realizing that’s what the wider society thought would have been crushing) I did not see that in all its starkness.

As I said, we’re somewhere around where race was in 1820 with the gender garbage.

The vote. I seem to remember hearing that the thing which pushed it over the top was white guys assuming “their” women would form a bulwark against all the uppity black votes. It wasn’t that they suddenly had an attack of fairness and realized it was criminal to disenfranchise women.

#3 Comment By quixote On 10 May, 2017 @ 22:23

Oh, and regarding pregnancy, to be exact women can start it and men can’t stop it either. Biology generally works much more benignly under cooperation, doesn’t it?

#4 Comment By Earlynerd On 11 May, 2017 @ 01:22

RE: pregnancy stopping and starting by both sexes. To be sure, biologically, that true. Legally, it’s still true, at least for the moment. The quote was from Lessing’s 5 volume Children of Violence novels set in British-ruled Africa from between the 1st and 2nd World Wars through to England during (I believe) the mid-sixties.

The setting of the quote is from before the 2nd world war, in the second novel IIRC. Something the protagonist says to her best friend when she finds herself pregnant by a husband she is starting to realize she loathes. Abortion was illegal at the time.

I should clarify my comment on the Civil Rights “restoration” act of 1991. That wasn’t the explicit reason given in congressional testimony, but the egregiousness of the different levels of civil rights established in that act for all women vs. male victims of racial prejudice was never given any convincing justification.

Among those were a $300,000 limit set on damages in sex discrimination cases (that’s when lawyers, not noted for their altruism, began to stop taking such cases) vs. unlimited damages for race (and I believe, also religion and national origin – whatever else Section 1981 covers). So for the exact same offense, say an environment where any woman in a “man’s” job had to hear sexist epithets all day and a black man* had to hear racist epithets all day, simply in order to keep working – no matter how great or proven or outrageous the offense, for the exact same offense, the man (and his lawyers) can legally be awarded millions of dollars in damages, and have been, while the woman will get only $300,000 max, most of which will go to her disgruntled lawyer. (Both may also get forward pay and back pay, which are not subject to the cap, but the money is in the punitive damages).

* (or non-white woman, but since that race discrimination would take necessarily take place in sex-segregated jobs, the damages would again be minimal)

The woman will also be forced to go through the entirely useless EEOC and up to two years delay after filing but before going to court, while the employer is merrily retaliating away, since notification is mandatory. The man gets to skip this and go directly to federal court. The woman has only the ridiculously short period of either 180 DAYS in some states, or 300 DAYS in the rest, in which to file. The man gets four years.

I could go on about this for far too long, but I think it’s pretty clear why job segregation based on sex has returned almost completely to the American workforce.

Why this was allowed to happen by Democrats as well as Republicans – every justification I have ever seen or read is usually some version of the lefty view that any fight for women’s rights that doesn’t also include and prioritize some category of men is only about “privileged white women” – who are only greatly privileged, and usually only over other women, when married or equivalent. Their income, status, lifestyle and level of comfort, and that of their children, depend on their husband’s wages, not their own. Men don’t want this changed. Enforcing women’s rights -as- women’s rights would.

Again, way, way too long a reply, but there you have it 🙂

#5 Comment By Branjor On 11 May, 2017 @ 17:56

Thanks for explaining all that, earlynerd, I had no idea. It does explain many things, and is also enraging and appalling. Nice to know where we stand in this country. If men’s wages are supposed to solve “all women’s” problems, that assumes “all women” are married to men, or at least all women that they give a flying f*ck about. I guess as a lesbian that I am supposed to marry a man for money. Even their “anti-discrimination” policies are designed to procure women for sexual access by men, whether we want it or not. Of course, even if a woman *is* married to a man anti-discrimination policies should be no different for women as for men.Yes, with regards to sex we are about where race was in 1820 – as men’s chattel. And with the sex segregation in jobs, sounds like they may as well bring back the old Help Wanted – Male and Help Wanted – Female ads.

#6 Comment By quixote On 11 May, 2017 @ 20:39

Wow, earlynerd. Like the kidz say, I can’t even. Reading through that list of double standards is giving me flashbacks to rules out of some Middle Eastern desert about how women can(not) get divorced vs men, about how many women’s testimony equals one man’s in court, and on and on and on and on and on through the whole sorry cesspool.

As I say, women can be human OR chattel and we’re still so far over on the chattel side all you can do is forget for a while. There’s never any relief anywhere.

#7 Comment By Earlynerd On 11 May, 2017 @ 22:01

Thank you both. I had sent a private message asking that my first long-winded comment be deleted, but it seems like it may have had some value.

For a concrete example of how this plays out, here’s a link to a case in the 9th circuit. Eric Snapper is one of the few civil rights lawyers who realize that those laws are also critical to the majority of citizens in this country.

This is another very good article of his on what sex discrimination plaintiffs faced -almost ten years ago-. It’s gotten much worse since then.

Bringing it back to the original post – which I though was excellent, Quixote, especially the visual impact of that shrouded woman being completed ignored by the reporter – if women cannot earn their own living as adults, if we cannot use our talents, energy and persistence to support ourselves and our children via a neutral wage market, then for most women, for any level of comfort and social agency, we must become chattel. As Marlyn Waring said (paraphrasing from what I remember) to better her place in the world, a woman cannot do her work better, or more efficiently, she can only do it for a richer man. She then went on to define that as slavery.

“I paid for her, I own her!” seems to be the unspoken rationale behind so many men’s murders of their wives in this country, and the media’s almost non-tacit approval of these. Chattel, again.

In the “it’s not so bad, my man hasn’t beaten me yet” world of most women in this country, though, the grown-up world of earning your own living and that of your children, via your irreplaceable brains, talents and energy, the world of facing down your spouse (or equivalent) over child care and housekeeping and maybe (horrors!) winning, of going forward as an equal, is just too expensive.

Branjor, as a heterosexual woman, I’ve seen for a long time that lesbians were -the- ones who did not back off and give up the fight for women’s rights, no matter how crushing public opinion became. You have all consistently been better friends to most women than they’ve been to themselves.

Quixote, please don’t think I’m arguing for giving up in despair. That you and so many other women are still in science, math, technology, just doing your jobs, using your talents, making a difference, earning your way, in spite of everything that’s thrown at you – it’s the best argument that the dolts are wrong, and will lose in the end.

BTW, Mechelle Vinson, the plaintiff in the watershed case Meritor Savings Bank v. Vinson, was a black woman. I didn’t know about the case at the time, but it defined sexual harassment as discrimination under Title VII and was the reason the stomach churning environment of male coworkers making routine sexual encroachments began to fall away and eventually disappear. My 20+ years of working in a lessened environment of that kind of crap are due entirely to her and to Catherine MacKinnon, her lawyer in the case.

#8 Comment By quixote On 11 May, 2017 @ 23:05

earlynerd, the last comment went to moderation because of the (very useful!) links. Thanks for those. Really interesting to learn the details on some of this (awful) history.

#9 Comment By quixote On 11 May, 2017 @ 23:57

Btw, seconding how much everyone owes to the tenacity and unclouded vision of lesbians!

#10 Comment By quixote On 13 May, 2017 @ 21:17

Another thing that needs adding is how much worse technology can make everything. (It could also make it better. Depends who controls it and for what.)

But new tech like the [6] will lead straight to horror if society keeps on the women-are-chattel road.

if women are property, embryos could be taken out of their uteruses, or eggs out of their ovaries, if some real person decides there’s a need for that. What she thinks, wants, or feels will matter as much as it does in the abortion “debate.”

#11 Comment By Earlynerd On 15 May, 2017 @ 13:00

And here I thought, like Marge Peircy (Woman At The Edge of Time), that external incubators would free men to be equal parents and women to be equal adults :/

Your comment reminds me of how far into dystopia this country has fallen. That the author of that article you posted could even plausibly cite men’s attitudes about women’s usefulness as something for women to be worried about – that’s simply outrageous. But it’s also, in naked form, pretty much what the male-ruled religions, now given priority over all women in decisions such as Cathcart and Hobby Lobby, have as the basis of their male-created, male-enforced church law.

There are no religions with a female equivalent of the single sex government of religions such as the Catholic, Mormon, Southern Baptist and Islamic religions, among others. Such as a religion might declare that a supreme being, always pictured, spoken of and prayed to as female, has told women (She doesn’t speak to that impure sex, men) that all men exist to serve the needs of women, and that any man may be morally murdered if his life gets in the way of this.

That is the exact equivalent of the government and laws of the male ruled religions but it would be absurd to think that a religion with an exclusively female government would get one second of consideration in any U.S. court. But then if there were such a religion, the use of any religion to cover up and justify attacks on the rights of over half the citizens in this country would never have even begun.

#12 Comment By quixote On 16 May, 2017 @ 13:42

It’s an interesting thought experiment on what the reverse situation would look like. I think there may be more than one reason why it feels totally implausible.

I once asked an anthropologist I know what the actual status of men is in the very few female-dominated societies I’ve heard of. (There are a couple in the Tibeto-Burmese cultural group, I think one or two among Pacific islanders (?). Don’t remember.)

She said there are really no parallels. When women dominate, men aren’t quashed. Women are the elders and make a lot of the decisions, but men are included and respected, unlike the reverse situation.

Not to go all essentialist or anything, but that would look like evidence that women, for some reason, really are better leaders. 😯

#13 Comment By quixote On 25 May, 2017 @ 16:15

This gentleman obviously reads my blog. [7]

#14 Comment By quixote On 08 Jun, 2017 @ 14:14

And now I see [8].

/*preens smugly for a minute*/

Although her argument orbits money and labor aspects rather than the right to control your own body: “a form of slavery to force women to have children that they cannot afford and then to say that they have to raise them.”

But the central issue is control of your own person. The labor can’t be forced until that basic right is robbed.